Dealing With Loss

Being drawn closer to God. . . through a grieving process. That was the lesson learned upon the loss of a loved one. The community comes together to offer support. . . and over time, with reflection, I have learned how to find meaning in past events of my life. And along the way, I have found how to pray better.

There is a growing tension between elements of past and current identity. Over time. All over the world. The tension is over Who I was. Who I am now. Who I was growing into. Individually. Communally.

Loss does not come solely from death. Loss involved issues of health. All kinds of issues of health. In 1982 I lost the recreation place I had spent most of my life; it also was the place that I found my first job. Municipal authority tore the place down and provided a rather artificial multi-purpose replacement. Ten years later due to injury, I gave up my favorite recreational pursuit. Some people now are learning about loss due to their own financial health in 2009.

Loss and change.

There is growing tension in Europe these days between the elements of Christian and European identity, in this Europe in search of European Union. This amidst the tension within the Roman Catholic Church between the left and right, between the hierarchy and the people in the pews, between outside and inside interests. Maybe Catholic politicians, especially Democrats, felt the same tension in the United States. Thoughtful people who were both fully Catholic and representing constituencies which were not Catholic.

In Europe, Rocco Buttiglione was a lawyer who joined Silvio Berlusconi’s new government as the European Union Policy Minister. From 2005-06 he was Minister for Cultural Assets and Activities in Italy. He was nominated in 2004 for for the European Commission with a designated portfolio of Justice, Freedom and Security. During his hearing before the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice And Home Affairs, he was asked about his stance on homosexuality. As a Roman Catholic, Buttiglione reported believing homosexuality to be a sin. He was quoted, “The family exists in order to allow women to have children and to have the protection of a male who takes care of them.”

The Party of European Socialists, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, and European Greens – European Free Alliance groups “expressed reservations” regarding his ability to take positive political action in the area of citizens’ rights, in particular as regards to combating discrimination, and threatened to reject the entire proposed Commission. The committee voted by 27-26 not to endorse Rocco Buttiglione’s nomination.

In subsequent comments Buttiglione remarked, “The new soft totalitarianism that is advancing on the left wants to have a state religion. It is an atheist, nihilistic religion –but it is a religion that is obligatory for all.”

Thus, this Europe that does not see many Catholics attending Mass. Thus the Church that Benedict reigns over has more than simple sterile ideological battles. John Allen, Jr. addresses the new realities of Europe in a column on February 13th and whether the Treaty of Lisbon will trigger the reign of the anti-Christ.

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“Rocco Buttiglione episode is merely the best known example of a spreading ‘No Catholics Need Apply’ mentality in some secular circles. On the side of the Church, meanwhile, some worry that the Vatican sees things only in the most negative terms, and tends to view Catholics working to articulate the faith in Europe’s new cultural milieu — working, in other words, to find a new way of being Catholic on a changing continent, one marked by considerable religious and ethical pluralism — with suspicion, as if these pioneers somehow risk betraying the teaching and tradition of the Church.

“I have listened to these voices carefully, and as an American, my instinctive reply cannot help but be: ‘Welcome to our world.’

“What I mean is this: With allowances for the obvious historical differences, all of the above could have been said, and certainly was said, of Catholicism in the United States at various points in our history. During the 19th century, our own elite makers of culture — who were not secularists, but rather Protestants — also hung out ‘No Catholics Need Apply’ signs, and generally abhorred Catholicism as a foreign presence in America’s body politic. At the same time, those American Catholics who attempted to craft a form of Catholicism that could be at home in the competitive religious marketplace of the United States, one that could do justice to the country’s multi-faith and democratic ethos, were viewed with deep suspicion in Rome.

“In the mischievous corner of my soul thus takes delight in the current predicament of European Catholicism, because we American Catholics, for once, can play the senior partner in a conversation with our European brothers and sisters.

“Here’s the good news: In the short space of a century, the standing of American Catholicism, both in Rome and among our fellow citizens, has improved considerably. Consider that in 1899, Pope Leo XIII essentially invented a heresy called ‘Americanism’ in order to condemn those Catholics in the United States who defended our form of separation of church and state, indirectly suggesting that we ought to be more ‘European.’ In 2008, meanwhile, Pope Benedict XVI traveled to our shores to deliver a tribute to the American approach to church/state relations, arguing that in the United States the ‘wall of separation’ between church and state means freedom for religion, while laïcité in Europe often means freedom from religion. In effect, Benedict expressed a certain longing that Europe should be more like us!”

“Of course, I am not suggesting that European Catholicism should look across the Atlantic to find a model for its own way forward. Our histories and cultures are too different to simply transplant strategies from one continent to the other; and in any event, there are important aspects of American Catholicism that are still very much a work in progress. Rather, my point is that, from a historical point of view, a new culture is emerging in Europe today, with new legal and political institutions and a new set of values, and it is hardly surprising that Catholicism is struggling to adapt. If there is a lesson to be learned from the path that American Catholicism has walked over the last century, it is that efforts to express the faith in a new world often initially generate tumult and alarm, but can eventually come to be seen as a gift to the universal Church.

“Before Catholicism can foster the ____, or of the broader human family, we must first do a better job of being unified among ourselves. The new questions being asked in the 21st century are extraordinarily complex, and there is obviously more than one Catholic opinion about how we ought to respond. If we fall back into the familiar patterns which have characterized our internal life in the 50 years since the Second Vatican Council — of fractures between left and right, between ad intra interests and ad extra, between the hierarchy and the base, between the avant-garde and the defenders of tradition, between what Jacques Maritain once rather colorfully termed the ‘Sheep of Panurge’ and the ‘Ruminators of the Holy Alliance’ — we run the risk of paralysis, of serious new fractures and new heartache, which will make it impossible to articulate a compelling response to this changing world.”

It is said that the art treasures in the Vatican cost so much to maintain and restore that the art amounts to a net drain on the Vatican budget.

Through power, through change, through a loss of power, through the grieving process. In dealing with loss, there is this ‘being’ drawn closer to God.


1 comment so far

  1. paperlessworld on

    Look at the globe and see all the land fractures. Like the dreams in the Solomon Islands quoted as “Sai lima horohoro tuali” – “Putting lands together in living as before. It is never going to happen again in Europe. And even the Solomon Islands have one Central Bank. In the Age of Central Banks.

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